You may not know if you need email encryption until you definitely do need it. Email encryption is a great way of sharing secret information with people you trust: coworkers, family, friends, or even a large media organization.
Lots of people are doing it. If you see anyone online advertising their “public key”, you can use that key to encrypt a private message that only they can read.
How Do You Trust a Public Key?
There are websites that exist for the sole purpose of veriyfing peoples’ public keys. These are known as “keyserver” databases. Each key has a unique identifier: a string of random characters. If other people have signed that key, that means it’s been verified by those people as the correct key. This is sometimes known as a “web of trust”.
You May Not Need Email Encryption
If you’re exchanging email within your organization and have no privacy concerns, there’s no need to worry about encrypting your messages. Your need is determined by your own standards.
Check with your organization’s IT person. Let them know you’re interested in email encryption benefits and drawbacks. They’ll inform you of your options.
Don’t have an IT person? That’s ok. We’ve written some guides in our Support Center that provide some introductory and technical information that may be of help to you:
- How to create secure keypairs in cPanel
- Set up an encrypted email account with cPanel
- Using email encryption with Mozilla Thunderbird
How It Works
The “web of trust” is built upon the sharing of public keys. These public keys can be used to encrypt a message. And the message can only be be decrypted by a private key, which must never be shared under any circumstance if privacy is to be maintained properly.
As a key holder, you’re basically holding two keys:
- Your public key
- Your private key
Share your public key freely. That’s what people will use to send you encrypted messages.
Meanwhile, you’re holding your private key in a safe place, only to be used to decrypt messages that have been encrypted with your public key.
Free and Easy
Email encyrption is a fun, easy, and free way to share secret messages or just to learn about cryptography. You can easily set up keypairs in your cPanel, which you can use to encrypt files, directories, and emails.